Sweeney (Epic) on why tablets don't compete w/ powerful consoles, carts & next gen

subversus

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GI: With Microsoft and Sony not too far away from announcing new consoles, there have been all sorts of rumors. One is that Microsoft may be going away from discs and using solid state storage. I'm curious, what is your reaction is from the tech standpoint?

TS: Rumors aside, you can look at different storage devices from a purely technical point of view. You see that spinning optical media has about 250 milliseconds of latency. If you want to get some bits from somewhere else on the disc, you have to wait a quarter of a second for the little mechanical elements to move the head around so they can read it. A hard disc is about 20 times faster than that, and a solid state drive is tens of thousands of times faster. It's basically the speed of electrons that limits the solid state drive.

One of the major things a game needs to do in a world with a large environment and lots of graphical resources is continually go out and pull new textures and sounds and 3D models from different places in the storage media. So solid state drives have a really dramatic advantage from that point of view.
It would certainly be desirable for the working storage to be solid state or some other extremely fast medium. But that's a completely separate question from distribution media. Solid state drive costs are fairly expensive.

You couldn't ship a game on a cartridge that's a solid state drive itself. It would terribly prohibitive economically. You could potentially envision downloading a game from the internet to a solid state drive, or taking it off of optical media and installing it on a solid state drive. There are lots of ways to get a game onto optimal media for playing the game. If you look at decoupling the distribution media, whether it's internet or storage from the streaming medium (which is used during gameplay), you see far more flexibility than just in current console games. If all you have is a spinning drive, you just have to go out, load a resource, and wait for a drive to go out and do its mechanical work.

GI: I've met with Mike Capps a few times, and we've talked about the fast pace at which smartphones and tablets iterate. Every year, or every other year they are doubling in power. The consoles, of course, are on a five-year (or now longer) cycle between upgrades. Do you think it won't be too long until we see something like this Samaritan demo that Epic has shown off a few times? Do you think we're going to see that level soon on a tablet?

TS: We'll get there eventually. What we're seeing is more resolve marching forward with hardware performance doubling less than every two years. The big difference between a console and a tablet is the console can consume 100 or 200 watts of power, while the tablet consumes one or two or three or four watts. That's really the limiting factor of performance there. Just on the grounds of the laws of physics, you'd have to think it is three to four hardware generations, or six to eight years before the current highest end desktop or console performance you can achieve becomes achievable on tablets. To me, that really defines the role of consoles in the world. They define the highest and most impressive graphics experience anywhere in the industry. They focus on delivering teraflops of computing performance in a way that a portable device or an economical computer really couldn't, despite sheer focus on that one aspect.
the full interview about next-gen and stuff is here.

you need to register to read it.
 

DCharlie

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Epic are just trolling GAF it seems

<new thread> Tim Sweeney : Why Epic are not trollin GAF, new paradigm in social engineering as it relates to brand market mindshare
 

Auto_aim1

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So Ipad6/7 will be able to match current HD consoles. Eh...
And once the new consoles arrive, the gulf will widen even more. But thankfully, the primary focus of tablets isn't gaming, so it's a bit silly to compare them directly that way.
 

frostbyte

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What's with the mood swings? Epic not sure which horse to back?

And once the new consoles arrive, the gulf will widen even more. But thankfully, the primary focus of tablets isn't gaming, so it's a bit silly to compare them directly that way.
Some people tend to think otherwise. You should see some of the arguments being made.
 

subversus

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why people think that when Epic says "future" it means A YEAR FROM NOW? Tablets will replace everything in 15-20 years.
 

KorrZ

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Oh jeeze, conflicting messages from Epic! Although I'm more inclined to believe Tim's opinion than anyone else at that company. Seeing as he's the one who would know about performance..
 

gundamkyoukai

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Tim says stuff that make the most sense out of everyone.
I sure some time in future we going to have some type of mobile device that replaces Consoles\PC even cell phones but that is 20 -25 years from now.
 

vareon

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Remember the "tablets" everyone said to be replacing consoles and handhelds will not look the same as tablets are now, and not necessarily produced by Apple. Sweeney's opinion is about the current state of tablets, in which he is right.
 

Vermillion

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While Sweeney is right, it depends on what the market as a whole wants. If they will take the flash over substance games and be happy with it, then the tablet market will overtake consoles. If people prefer flash and deep games, the console market will stay... that simple.
 

subversus

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While Sweeney is right, it depends on what the market as a whole wants. If they will take the flash over substance games and be happy with it, then the tablet market will overtake consoles. If people prefer flash and deep games, the console market will stay... that simple.
what do you mean by deeper games? Corridor shooters? This gen iPad will be able to pull off some pretty complex strategies and these games are much deeper than anything released on consoles. Same goes for RPGs and JRPGs.
 

Vermillion

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what do you mean by deeper games? Corridor shooters? This gen iPad will be able to pull off some pretty complex strategies and these games are much deeper than anything released on consoles. Same goes for RPGs and JRPGs.
I know nothing about strategy games, but I disagree with you on RPGs and JRPGs.

Furthermore, I mean deeper as in "doesn't feel like a console rip-off." Smartphone and tablet games often try to chase after current consoles graphically, and the fact is that they can't match up while providing the same level of gameplay. As such, the gameplay is often heavily gimped.
 

subversus

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you guys will be pleasantly surprised by some projects on iPad 3. I heard about some of them and they will be a step up.
 

Krilekk

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What's with the mood swings? Epic not sure which horse to back?



Some people tend to think otherwise. You should see some of the arguments being made.
Yeah, it's crazy. It's obvious at least Microsoft has to come up with an ultra powerful console to stay ahead of Apple in this very profitable business (if you do it right). They entered the console market to have their own environment where Google could never enter. If it's your hardware you don't have to be afraid of anyone, you decide who gets on there and who doesn't. Microsoft won't just stand by and watch Apple take over as they themselfs release only a 360.5, it's just not going to happen. Apple, Google and Microsoft are in a fight over predominance in the future. Google needs to be everywhere because that's how they make money. Apple and Microsoft want to cater your every needs on their own platforms so they can control everything from content to advertising and make loads of money.
 

PKrockin

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Hahaha, the other thread about Epic and tablets wasn't even off the first page when I refreshed.
 

Sirolf

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GI: The reception for Unreal Engine 4 has been very positive from what we've heard, although it's not been shown to press. When are you looking to push forward with that and launch Unreal Engine 4?

TS: Well our engine has been in active development for a long time. It's up and running stably now and a select few partners have and will have access to it shortly. It is already in the early stage of the development pipeline at a number of studios. But we're saving the announcements until everything is lined up for when we can make a really big public splash. Obviously we're trying to line up Epic's roadmap up with a few other roadmaps whose existence we can't even acknowledge.
Gosh announce the next-gen consoles already :(
 

subversus

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So we're just gonna have more advanced laptops and technology corresponding with smart phones will continue to get better? So when does this tablet revolution happen?
wat

it happens right now. When there will be powerful enough hardware to satisfy the needs of every user (including those who use perfomance heavy applications like Maya) the transition will happen. It's possible now to connect tablets to a wide range of output and input devices and soon there will be nothing you can't connect to a tablet. Keyboards, projectors, anythings (and wireless too of course).
 

whitehawk

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you guys will be pleasantly surprised by some projects on iPad 3. I heard about some of them and they will be a step up.
So what. My dads friend works for microsoft and he said that xbox 720 games will look like real life. I heard about some of them.
 

subversus

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so what!1 my dads friend works for microsoft and he said the xbox 720 games will look like rael life!!
well, you sound very edgy but I can't talk about these projects anyway. Not that I know a lot but enough to get excited.
 

gofreak

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Capps and Rein are the business side of the house. Their recent noises about tablets and all that is pretty obviously just designed to put pressure on the console makers to go balls out with their next systems, so that Epic's next product will make sense and have a market. They need the console makers to be successful in going that route - iPad isn't going to provide a market for UE4 any time soon, but invoking Apple's name is a scare tactic for Sony and MS. Rein, Capps et al know the right buttons to push.

Sweeney isn't so much that side of things.
 
We'll get there eventually. What we're seeing is more resolve marching forward with hardware performance doubling less than every two years. The big difference between a console and a tablet is the console can consume 100 or 200 watts of power, while the tablet consumes one or two or three or four watts. That's really the limiting factor of performance there. Just on the grounds of the laws of physics, you'd have to think it is three to four hardware generations, or six to eight years before the current highest end desktop or console performance you can achieve becomes achievable on tablets.
This is actually a rather interesting statement.

So, the current best card out there is a Kepler.

If we assume that the next-gen consoles launch in Fall 2013, that's about 2 years from now.

If they're on par with a Kepler, that means they only have 4-6 years before Tim Sweeney says that mobile technology catches up to them.

So, going back to Mark Rein's old statement, he's very serious when he says this: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=465925

"Don't worry. We are absolutely every day [pushing platform holders]," Rein told CVG. "This is why we did Samaritan and why we're doing a really high-end demo in the room here. We really are pushing these guys, because if they don't, Apple will go right past them."
Presumably he's not talking statistic per statistic, but this is still a very interesting timeline on Sweeney's part.
 

Durante

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the console can consume 100 or 200 watts of power, while the tablet consumes one or two or three or four watts. That's really the limiting factor of performance there. Just on the grounds of the laws of physics, you'd have to think it is three to four hardware generations, or six to eight years before the current highest end desktop or console performance you can achieve becomes achievable on tablets.
This is so obvious but also something people just seem to ignore. It's a difference of factor 50. By simply applying Moore's law we get to 5 years, but that hasn't really held up that well recently. So I think his 8 year estimate is more realistic.

Tim Sweeney: Legendary engineer and 3d graphics pioneer.
Mike Capps: PR clown.
Yeah, also this. I think the "internal disagreement" angle is overplayed. It's just that some people know what they are talking about.
 
This is so obvious but also something people just seem to ignore. It's a difference of factor 50. By simply applying Moore's law we get to 5 years, but that hasn't really held up that well recently. So I think his 8 year estimate is more realistic.
He kind of covered that between the start of his quote in the OP and this one.

GI: What are your thoughts on the new iPad announced this week? Obviously, Infinity Blade has become a blockbuster franchise and Epic is building a larger and larger presence...

TS: I'm continually astounded by Apple's sheer will to push the industry forward. Apple is by far the leading phone provider in terms of profits or any other objective measure of how well they are doing. A company in that position could just rest on their laurels and keep making more and more profit from each new phone. Apple doesn't take that approach. Rather, they push the technology forward as fast, or faster than possible to go from lower resolution displays.

Remember, so-called smartphones six or seven years ago right before iPhone had resolutions of 320x240 - less than one tenth the number of pixels you have on the next iPad. Apple has continually pushed screen resolutions. They are going around to manufacturers saying " Build this device that no one has contemplated existing." They've gone through the whole hardware ecosystem to push the graphics vendors, the display vendors and all manufacturers forward, but at a much, much faster pace than is even natural for the industry. That really stands out, that's very impressive for a company. Any company that will sacrifice the opportunity to just sit back and profit, in order to expand the market to bring it into an entirely new direction really stands out in the current age.
TS: We'll get there eventually. What we're seeing is more resolve marching forward with hardware performance doubling less than every two years.
 

Tajin

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I can't believe different human beings that work for the same company could have such different opinions. This would be like kotaku posting a blog about two users disagreeing on NeoGAF!
 

SmokyDave

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Everything, like he said. I can't wait to drive home from work on my tablet.
You're going to feel a bit daft in a decade when 'driving home' means 'docking the tablet in the centre console, firing up the GPS app and letting the car drive me home whilst I watch the news'.
 

herod

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The key thing for me (which is probably entirely obvious) here is how much of a boost a native solid-state drive could be for a console, and how much of a leveller it currently is for tablets and smartphones.

If console developers could depend on there being one locally, the quality of console gaming could improve dramatically. Right now we've barely scratched the surface with trying games on PS3 on a slow sata interface with games optimised for spinning platters.
 

SmokyDave

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Okay, Epic, clearly the only way to settle this dispute you have with yourself is to put, oh say, Bulletstorm 2 on the iPad at full console retail price and see how well it sinks or swims.
Wouldn't it make more sense to make Shadow Complex 2 with a budget and price befitting an XBLA game first?